The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday announced key reforms designed to further enhance compliance and oversight at the FBI.
The reforms come in the form of two memoranda issued by Attorney General William Barr, in consultation with FBI Director Christopher Wray. The first memorandum “makes significant improvements to the FBI’s internal compliance program,” Barr said. Specifically, it requires the FBI to develop “compliance and oversight mechanisms, training, and internal controls to ensure the FBI’s compliance with applicable statutes, policies, procedures, and court orders that govern the FBI’s national security activities,” according to the memo.
As part of the changes, Barr has authorized Wray to establish a newly created Office of Internal Auditing, which will be headed by a senior FBI official and responsible for ensuring the carrying out of “rigorous and robust auditing,” the memo states.
The second memorandum includes supplemental reforms “designed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) applications targeting U.S. persons” and also “include oversight protocols to ensure that any use of FISA to surveil federal elected officials, candidates for federal elected office, or their advisors or staff is justified, non-partisan, and based on full and complete information.” This comes months ahead of the November presidential election.
“What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people [in 2016] must never happen again,” Barr remarked in a statement.
The second memorandum further requires the FBI to develop procedures “to prevent U.S. persons from becoming unwitting participants in malign influence operations by foreign powers and to review its disciplinary policies and procedures to ensure appropriate disciplinary action for those who knowingly misrepresent facts to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”
The changes follow a scathing review published in December 2019 by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which identified, as described in the IG’s report, “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” in FISA applications. The so-called “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, which began in July 2016, concerned “whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
“Since the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report was issued last December, I have made clear that it describes conduct that was unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an organization” Wray said. “That’s why I immediately ordered more than 40 corrective actions, including foundational FISA reforms, many of which went beyond those recommended by the Inspector General.”
“The FBI has been working diligently to implement these corrective actions,” Wray added. “The additional reforms … will build on the FBI’s efforts to bolster its compliance program.”
In 2007, the FBI became one of the first U.S. federal agencies to establish a compliance function. Last year, Catherine Bruno, assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance, spoke with Compliance Week about the program’s structure, how it analyzes risks, and the ways in which the program intended to evolve.